The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics finalized the deal that sent Kyrie Irving to Boston for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 unprotected first-round pick, and a 2020 second-round pick, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Before the blockbuster deal became official, FS1‘s NBA reporter Chris Broussard revealed that the Cavaliers could have acquired Paul George and Eric Bledsoe for Irving if LeBron James agreed to Dan Gilbert’s condition.
Before the 2017 NBA draft, the Cavaliers have been engaged in a three-team trade with the Indiana Pacers and the Phoenix Suns. The deal would enable the Cavaliers to acquire Paul George and Eric Bledsoe in exchange for Kyrie Irving. As Broussard noted, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert was ready to make the blockbuster trade happen if LeBron James would commit to signing a long-term contract.
“Heading into the draft, we know that Cleveland had a deal on the table where they could’ve gotten Eric Bledsoe and Paul George for Kyrie Irving in a three-team deal [with the Phoenix Suns and Indiana Pacers]. Dan Gilbert went to LeBron and wanted him to sign long-term. He said, ‘I’ll do the deal if you sign long-term.’ And I’m told that Paul George was willing to [opt-in] to the final year of his contract. He wasn’t ready to commit long-term, but he told Cleveland, ‘Look, if you do this, I’ll pick up my option,’ so he would’ve been there for two years. And LeBron, still, did not commit long-term,” Broussard said in The HoopsHype Podcast.
The acquisition of Paul George and Eric Bledsoe will undeniably strengthen the Cavaliers’ chance of reclaiming the championship title next season. The combination of LeBron James, George, Kevin Love, and Bledsoe can match the Golden State Warriors’ “Super Death Lineup.” PG can decrease the load on James on both ends of the floor while Bledsoe serves as the Cavaliers’ starting point guard.
However, after James refused to sign the extension, it’s crystal clear that he’s really planning to leave Cleveland in the summer of 2018, no matter what the outcome of the 2017-18 NBA season. There are speculations that he’s heading to the Western Conference and join one of the two Los Angeles teams. As of now, Bledsoe remains as a member of the Suns while George was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The assets the Cavaliers got from the Celtics will help them prepare for the potential departure of James while retaining their status as a legitimate title contender. The Nets’ unprotected 2018 first-round pick, which has a great chance to be a lottery pick, and Ante Zizic will help them speed up the rebuilding process. Whether James leaves Cleveland for the second time or not, the Cavaliers have a great future ahead of them.
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